This talented, intelligent director is also a first-rate actor; perhaps that's why he communicates so well with his stars. Pollack studied with Sanford Meisner at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, and briefly served as one of its acting coaches, before embarking on his own career on stage and television. While acting in the 1962 movie War Hunt he became friendly with Robert Redford, who was making his screen debut. When Pollack decided to move behind the camera, Redford was eager to work with him. They have since collaborated on seven films: This Property Is Condemned (1966), Jeremiah Johnson (1972), The Way We Were (1973), Three Days of the Condor (1975), The Electric Horseman (1979), Out of Africa (1985), and Havana (1990). Out of Africa in fact, won Pollack his first Academy Award as Best Director.
Pollack was also nominated for the wrenching Depression-era drama They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) and the crackerjack comedy Tootsie (1982), which forced him back in front of the camera when Dustin Hoffman insisted that Pollack play his agent in the movie, which he did, delightfully. In 1992 he appeared in The Player contributed the funniest scene to Death Becomes Her as Meryl Streep's addled doctor, and delivered a superb seriocomic performance as Judy Davis' errant husband in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives.
In recent years Pollack has devoted more time to producing than directing, numbering among his credits (as producer or executive producer) Honeysuckle Rose (1980), Songwriter (1984), Bright Lights, Big City (1988), Major League, The Fabulous Baker Boys (both 1989), Presumed Innocent, White Palace (both 1990), Dead Again, King Ralph (both 1991), Searching for Bobby Fischerand Flesh and Bone (both 1993). He also executive produced the high-profile cable TV series "Fallen Angels" in 1993, then returned to the director's chair for The Firm (1993) and Sabrina (1995).